Snapchat’s Newest Feature is a Location Nightmare for Parents

Jun 27, 2017

As if keeping track of kids isn’t difficult enough – Snapchat’s newest feature makes it a digital nightmare.

The most recent Snapchat update includes a new feature called Snap Map. Snap Map allows users to place themselves on a virtual map, showing their location to friends. They can enable this feature by updating their app, then pinching the screen to zoom out – revealing the exact location of friends on a map.


What is Snap Map?

Before we dive into the safety concerns, let’s talk about the details of this feature. First, the Snap Map uses “Actionmojis” – similar to a bitmoji cartoon character you can create in your likeness. A Team Snap release explains actionmojis further. “To infer the best Actionmoji, Snapchat may look at things like your location, time of day, or speed of travel. Examples of Actionmojis today include things like: at the beach, at the airport, sitting, and a handful more.”

The Snap team announced the new Snap Map feature with limited information stating, “It's easy to get started — just pinch to zoom out and view the Map! You decide if you want to share your location with friends, or simply keep it to yourself with Ghost Mode.


SAFETY CONCERNS ARE REAL

The big question is: what are the safety issues associated with this new feature? Well, there are quite a few. Since a whopping 75 percent of teens use Snapchat, according to Science Daily, the safety issues raised are substantial.

Broadcasting your location puts users at risk for stalkers, bullies, predators and stranger danger, it almost encourages location spying on your friends, acquaintances and loved ones. Also… strangers. Yes, anyone who follows you on Snapchat could potentially have access to your location – and not just in confusing coordinates, but on a local map that gives detail down to the street.

According to Elite Daily, “This animated map walks quite a thin line between being informative and downright creepy.” I don’t know about you, but there are some people who I’d prefer don’t know my exact location at all times. There may be friends you’ve fallen out of favor with, bosses and co-workers, ex-partners and love interests. So, why would you even want to broadcast your location?

"In a lot of ways, we're taking what a map is and turning it upside down," Jack Brody, a product designer at Snap, told Refinery29. "This map isn't about where am I, it's about where are my friends and what are they up to? It's not about figuring out how to get to your destination, but about discovering where you want to go."

The difficulty with Brody’s statement is that he assumes users will be accessing this new feature with his same intention. And yes, connecting with friends is great and seeing what’s happening around you can be interesting, but if you’re actually friends with someone, wouldn’t you already know their destination? The sad fact is that not all users will be as oriented to just discover snap-worthy events going on around them – some will use this to discover detailed locations of specific people.

snap map friends

What You Can Do

First of all, talk to your child about their social media use. If they use Snapchat to connect with their friends and peers, make sure they enable Ghost Mode right away. There are varying levels you can enable for Snap Map: Ghost Mode, My Friends or Select Friends. You can do this by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right corner. This is the settings button and from there, you can change your Snap Map preference.

snap map